Showing posts with label Life Style. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Life Style. Show all posts

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Africa Adorned!

Wow! How exotic!

When we are clothed in a certain way, we have high expectations.  That is to be accepted or treated in a manner that we desire and our clothing has the power to achieve that  before we  speak.   

So I re-visit my library for some inspiration. I love going back to history books that I have collected over the years and  search for a spark of ideas.  I found "Africa Adorned" by Angela Fisher.  It is such a useful book for  any artist to have in their library collection. Well it motivates me a lot.  Not only for inspiration but gives one a wealth of positive insight of what Africa is all about.  From Northern Africa all the way down to South.  It is fantastic!

The author wrote about her fascination with Africa during her first visit to Southern Africa in early 70's. Of course, she did not stop there but travelled to my country Tanzania- in East Africa- where she encountered the famous African tribe- the Maasai warriors. 
Her curiosity made her travel deeper into the heart of Africa all the way to up North; she claimed it was like stepping into a complete different planet. Mhh!   She encountered more diverse tribes, life styles and culture with distinguished and striking customs (in terms of) outstanding tribal costumes, remarkable hair forms, body paintings, and all sorts of decorations that she had never seen before.

"I began to discover that all these exotic fashion - in jewellery, body art, even clothing - were not merely adopted for beauty.  Each Item was of individual significance and proffered a wealth of information about the wear"

Yes! In general we are what we wear and  body language has become a media of expression in its own right.  We call it 'The Language of Clothes' as in a book by: Alison Lurie.

We often identify or send messages by what and how we wear; this is exactly what Angela Fisher encountered so evidently and powerfully may I say, in Africa. 

In my earlier post about Khanga, a native Swahili garment in Tanzania, I referred this as being the cloth that speaks a culture of silence. 

 The language of dress is an automatic one since history of mankind.  Before the so called 'Fashion' or civilisations, people were geographically identified through communication of their traditional costumes, hair styles, body adornment and  body painting.

I have selected other stunning,breathtaking and extremely stylish images from Africa taken by photographer Ken Hanmann and what have I got to say about these images.



Love, Security & Family

Sheer Elegance, Style & Pride

Youth, Beauty,& Pride

oozing with style & poise


Innocence & Purity


Pride & Identity

.........and then there is of course what we call the 'High End Fashion Adorned'! 
Christian Dior, Fall 1999, photos by Annie Leibovitz

Fashion throughout the decades has demonstrated to be an influential force in the establishment and expression of both cultural and personal identity.

Africa Adorned: Angela Fisher
Photos courtesy of :  Ken Hanmann 

Friday, 5 August 2011


Its a Hair Thang!

What is there not to like about this photo!  Its a master piece, a piece of art that I would display somewhere in my house. It is simply dynamic.  Al Green, one of my childhood idols!
When I saw this photo, it inspired me so much that I thought I would do some research on African hair (Afro Hair). 

The term Afro hair, automatically refers to black kinky hair.  It can be bushy, spring like, spongy or woolly if you like, when you feel it.   I'm talking about virgin African hair that hasn't been processed.

I remember starting to hear the term Afro in very early 70, I didn't give a hoot about it, I just new it was some kind of hairstyle that only stylish people wore.  Then later on, I came to understand it originated from America.  We had lots of African American family friends in my country (Tanzania) and yes, the younger ones all had   'The Afro hair do' (as they called it).  This trend was then picked up by the younger generation of that era and it was considered to be cool to have an Afro hair do at that time. 

 Thinking back, as I once wrote about my native fabric, The Khanga being a media of communication, African hair was also a mode of communication.    Just by looking at a particular hair style and how it was groomed, it determined the identity, gender, age, even ethnicity.  You would see all sorts of creativity in terms of cuts, shaves, braids, colour, and styles.   For instance, in some tribes there will be a significant hair style on a young girl who just had their first period and is a virgin, or a bride to be.  Likewise on a man you would be able to determine if that person is a chief, a warrior, or if the family is in mourning.  Hair styles can also establish what region or country the person is from.

For women, grooming each others hair brought unity and built a loving society amongst families.  Braiding each others hair was like a social event and a way of getting to know each other.  Women proved their artistic skills in creating different kinds of styles and this tradition was passed on for generations. 
Swahili women wearing Khanga braiding away

 In East Africa, coconut oil was very popular for hair and scalp and was  mostly used by coastal natives.  It was believed that coconut oil made hair manageable and healthy and also good for scalp. I personally couldn't stand the smell of it but I saw loads of lovely and healthy hair especially those who were using this particular oil.  I know in West Africa Shea Butter is also very popular up to now.
  I could go on about hair, but will stop here for today.  Enjoy the images I have put together for you.

Having a comb stuck on your Fro (Afro) was once an 'in thing', it was considered cool for some, although I thought it just looked ridiculous, just like wearing pants half way on ones bottoms.

(Say It Loud!)
James Brown and Michael Jackson looking good with their Fros

Mhh ..... stunning Masai warrior getting his hair twisted.  Hair twisting takes as long as 2 to 6 hrs depending on the size of the twist and the hair style. On this image this cool dude is getting his hair twisted with clay and red ocher, a type of soil found in volcanic regions. It has been said that this is where the journey of dreadlocks started!

Pretty African girl, totally unaware how stylish and amazing she looks!

Amazing African hair do's! I wonder if this is where the Punks got their inspirations from!

This elegant hair style has been twisted using  black thread. I believe the use of the thread twisting style originates from Central Africa.   It was very much in fashion during the 70's/80's.
I am definitely going back to this very soon, I think it is just super.

Another stylish Swahili woman, half corn row, half combed and brushed kinky hair (evidence of coconut oils).  Exquisite!

I think I will be right to say the commercialisation of Afro hair started in the 21st Century, new hair products, different hair styles, hair accessories, were soon in the market.  The black hair Industry is without a doubt a multimillion industry world wide.  African women around the world were bombarded by TV adverts and magazines enticing them to buy hair care products.  The native Masai people are in the city providing the best salon in twisting hair in East Africa, and the business now is expanding worldwide.
  Gone were the days of braiding each others hair with laughter without paying a penny.  

Question; What will happen if majority of us decide to go natural, is it a wishful thinking? Will we ever decide to that? It will be dooms day for the hair industry I reckon.

I am welcoming any additional (positive) comments regarding African hair!  I would like to read your point of views.